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Obesity A community forum

In any public health epidemic, we all have a role: young people, parents, schools, youth and afterschool programs, health care providers, faith-based institutions, government agencies, the media, policymakers and private industry.

A Words Can Work/Partners HealthCare forum held at the Massachusetts State House, brought together more than 300 representatives of these sectors from across Massachusetts to view the new DVD Words Can Work: Kids and Healthy Lifestyles and to discuss factors related to childhood obesity.

Many organizations are working to reverse childhood obesity. Some advocate for healthier, more affordable food choices. Others are committed to creating safe places for kids to play and be active. These are vital steps to raising healthy kids.

Words Can Work has identified a key, missing element in the national dialogue about childhood obesity: helping parents and other caring adults talk with young people about factors that contribute to the childhood obesity.

Itís not easy for some. A survey released in September 2011 found that a quarter of parents are more comfortable talking with kids about sex and drugs than the risks of being overweight.

A study released a year earlier reported that when parents talk with kids about healthy choices, kidsí interest in healthy food increases dramatically, from 44 percent to 73 percent. Talking openly and effectively with children is critical to creating lasting change.

At the State House forum, we provided information, communication strategies and the words and resources that can help adults start and continue these vital conversations with young people about healthy living.

A panel of elite clinical and policy experts answered questions from the audience. Harvardís Dr. Lindsay Shaw explained the connection between physical activity and better brain function and had us all running in place to make her point. Click here to read chapter one of SPARK, a book recommended by Dr. Shaw.

The resources received by each attendee included the DVD Words Can Work: Kids and Healthy Lifestyles (with discussion guide) and Tip Cards that offer suggestions on how to initiate conversation with kids about healthy lifestyles.

The response to the forum was overwhelmingly positive. The forum was sponsored by Partners HealthCare. Co-sponsors included the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Legislative co-hosts included Senator Richard Moore, Representative Steven Walsh and Representative Jeffery SŠnchez.

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